Child Custody and Visitation

Child Custody and Visitation

The laws regarding child custody can be complex and depend on many factors. Child custody is not always connected to divorce. A dispute about child custody could arise between unmarried parents or even close relatives.

In South Carolina, the right to child custody does not automatically belong to either parent, but is instead determined according to the best interest of the child. There are several different kinds of custody:

  • Physical custody: The child lives with one parent for most of the time. An important consideration in a family court case is who the child’s primary caretaker is. Often, the non-custodial parent has the right to regular visitation.
  • Legal custody: In most instances where one parent has physical custody of the child, both parents share legal custody. This includes the right to make decisions about your child’s education, religion, health care, and other important issues in the life of your child.
  • Joint custody: The child lives with each parent for approximately half of the time.
  • Split custody: One or more children live with one parent, and the one or more with the other parent. However, courts typically prefer not to split siblings.
  • Unmarried: If the parents are unmarried, laws typically grant custody to the unwed mother.

If one parent has primary custody, the other parent has the right to seek regular visitation. Unless evidence suggests otherwise, courts will assume that having both parents involved benefits the child. If the two parents are able to come to an agreement about custody or visitation, the court will typically not need to intervene. An attorney can help you, either by helping you mediate a decision with a former spouse or partner, or if necessary by taking up your case in court.